• Weekly Update: 3.25.23

    Weekly Update: 3.25.23

    It’s officially spring in the Ozarks. It feels like the earth is waking up from a long sleep. Where there was nothing but brown and gray, tiny green buds are unfolding on bush and tree.

    We have had lots of rain this week, which is a blessing in general. But it meant that, once again, we only had one full work day on our project. We finished the shower shed doors and hung them up — leaving a little bit of hardware to finish installing next time.

    While the rest of us worked on doors, Bonnie-Jean worked on filling in the waterline ditch to our bunkhouse. The well company had offered to fill it in, but we wanted to take advantage of the free digging to run our power line. After calculating the cost of the wire, though, we decided we will take a shorter route. This will require more digging, but the savings will be worth it!

    Once we get our tractor running again, projects like this one will go more quickly. We have hardly used our tractor since purchasing it last summer. After using it to drag our shower shed a few feet and move our brush hog, we noticed it started to drip. It turned out to be gas from a fuel line that had melted due to proximity to the exhaust pipe.

    We have been doing research on how to fix the issue, and we have a plan. We just need to find the parts.

    We are supposed to have good weather this weekend, so we hope to finish up the shower shed and start on the bunk beds for inside the tent. There are more storms in the forecast for later in the week, but we are trusting God that we can accomplish all he plans for us despite the rain.

  • Weekly Update: 3.18.23

    Weekly Update: 3.18.23

    This week feels like a return to winter, with so many days being downright freezing. We still bundled up on Sunday and got a little work done, as we needed to take some supplies out to our site and didn’t want to wait another week with our trailer parked in town.

    We also needed to plant the apple trees that arrived last week. Bonnie-Jean and our sister-in-law, Erin, took on this project. Bonnie-Jean will post more about the planting later this week.

    The rest of us worked on putting trim on the shed and building the shed doors. We got such a late start, we didn’t finish. But we made good progress.

    I was looking forward to finishing the shed this weekend, but with the windchill, it’s just too cold to work much outside. We are redeeming the time, ordering supplies, fine-tuning bunkbed plans, and planning our garden. Submitting to the weather is part of living a lifestyle close to the earth. It can be frustrating, but we have learned that extra time for detailed planning is a real blessing in the end.

  • Weekly Update: 3.11.23

    Weekly Update: 3.11.23

    Our shower shed is almost done! We were thrilled to have three days out on our land this week, and we made the most of them.

    Last Saturday we assembled the shed walls and finished cutting and installing the rafters. It was exciting seeing it all finally coming together.

    As we were wrapping up for the day, we had a surprise delivery from FedEx. We had been told our apple trees (family Christmas gifts from our brother Levi and his wife Erin) were arriving in April or May, but — they’re here!

    We weren’t quite ready for them, so Erin hit the books this week figuring out what we need to do to get them in the ground. We will be planting them this next weekend — hopefully!

    Saturday evening came too quickly, but we went home happy knowing we would be back the next morning. Grace snapped some pictures at dusk — they almost capture how lovely it was.

    Sunday was beautiful and springlike, so the whole family took a picnic and spent the day working (and recreating) on our land. The afternoon turned very windy, and that made installing our roofing panels challenging, to say the least.

    Things got even more interesting when our dad tripped while carrying a piece of sheet metal and dislocated his finger. He didn’t fall far, but he landed wrong, and his finger was bent in half backwards. While several of us were scrambling to decide who would drive him to the closest walk-in clinic, our dad simply popped his finger back into place. That’s what happens when your dad is a nurse who spent more than a decade working in an ER. He kept it on ice the rest of the day, but there was no real harm done.

    While Grace and I helped the guys work on the shed, Bonnie-Jean broke ground on a garden area. Since we don’t have the appropriate implements for our tractor yet, she, Erin, and the kids made a good beginning using hand tools.

    Even Dolly and Rascal were busy on Sunday, keeping the building site bird and rodent free.

    When she wasn’t busy hunting for mice and voles, Dolly kicked back for some well-deserved sun-bathing.

    She looked like she was as ready for spring as I am.

    Jobs and weather kept us from working for the next few days. In the meantime, we ordered some supplies — including an air compressor and nail gun, as well as fencing for our garden.

    On Friday, we made a supply run, then finished the day out on our place. It was cold, but we were thankful for the opportunity to get a little work done.

    The exterior of the shed is almost done — we just need to finish the metal siding along the front and add some trim. We are picking up materials this weekend for doors.

  • Wall Tent Build: Window Wall

    Wall Tent Build: Window Wall

    For anyone following our weekly updates, this post will seem redundant. Still, I want to compile the various parts of this project into one post for future reference.

    As we were finishing up our wall tent build, we started discussing the logistics of living life in a tent. Something that came up quickly was the amount of traffic our tent entrance was going to have. We will have bunk space for up to 11 people, and we will be doing life in this cabin style tent. The more we talked, the more we disliked the idea of everyone having to use the zipper/buckle system every time they needed to go in or out. Not only would this be difficult — especially in the dark at night — it would be hard on the zipper.

    We also started pondering issues of security: how to keep our dogs in and other critters out, since the front flap just sat on the deck.

    Early in our research process, we had been impressed with the tent entrances on several YouTube videos we watched. Both Dalton Off Grid and Den For Our Cubs built clear polycarbonate walls with real doors for their tent entrances. We loved this idea, but since we were in a hurry and on a budget, we planned to use the tent as is.

    As we contemplated making the leap back to tent life, we decided the extra time, money, and effort would be worth it. So, we took the plunge, bought the supplies, and tackled the project.

    First, I drew up a plan with Sketchup, using our saved measurements from our rafter build. I knew these measurements would be close but not perfect. We would take better measurements and adjust on site.

    Plans in hand, we ordered our supplies. We purchased wood and a Larson storm door from Menards. We picked up Tuftex polycarbonate panels, fasteners, and closure strips from Lowe’s.

    We used 2×4 framing, spacing our studs 24-inch on center. We cut our pieces and laid out our project in the tent. It was a tight space, but we made it work. Because the wall was so long, we built it sort of in two sections. Because we didn’t have a continuous bottom plate, it was very tricky to keep things square. That’s a mistake I will never make again!

    We ended up having to trim and shim some things to make everything fit, but we did finally manage. We double checked the fit when we were done by raising up the wall temporarily.

    We added some temporary bracing at this point to make sure things didn’t shift too much when we laid the wall back down.

    Next, we added the foam closure strips recommended for our Tuftex panels. These have to be in the exactly right spot, or the panels don’t line up correctly. We attached the panels as well, but just along the top of our wall, since this spot would be difficult to reach once the wall was in place. We left the middle and bottom loose so that the panels could move freely and not snap during the wall installation.

    To install the wall, we took down our first set of rafters. After sliding (and shoving, and lifting) the wall into place, we paused to take down the front tent pole. Finally, we pushed the wall so that it lined up with our side walls. We nailed and screwed everything into place. We replaced the rafters just inside the wall. We also took down the braces and finished fastening the polycarbonate panels.

    Last of all, my dad and I installed the door. It was toward the end of the day, and we were in such a hurry, I didn’t stop for pictures! It was quite a little project in itself, but we were very pleased with the results.

    We completed this project in the dead of winter, fighting weather and cold season. Due to several delays, finishing this build was especially satisfying. We cleaned up that night feeling rejuvenated. We can’t wait to start living full-time in this place we call home.

  • Weekly Update: 3.4.23

    Weekly Update: 3.4.23

    We finally have our hearth done and wood stove in place. It looks so cozy. I can’t wait to use it. While all our delays have pushed our tent move-in toward spring, we know we will still be thankful for our woodstove on cool spring nights.

    Our hearth was heavily inspired by a video from Country Living Experience. We are waiting to put the chimney up until we will be there to use it and monitor how much rain comes in around the pipe.

    We also finished building the walls for our shed, though we decided to wait and put it up when we had time to get the siding and roof on.

    The weather this weekend looks perfect, so we plan to make use of both days to finish up the shower shed. We plan to get as much done as we can, as there is snow and rain forecast for next week!

  • Weekly Update: 2.25.23

    Weekly Update: 2.25.23

    Another winter week has come and gone, and I am counting down the days until spring — 23 more days! We made more progress this week, all things considered. Once again, we were only able to make it out one day. This time, however, we accomplished quite a bit in that one afternoon.

    Bonnie-Jean and our dad worked on finishing the hearth. Since the decking isn’t perfectly smooth (there are small size differences between the boards), they built a plywood pad a couple thicknesses deep. This gave us a smooth, level surface for the cement board. They dry laid the tiles. The result is very clean, and it should work perfectly for our needs. We will attach furring strips for trim next time we are out there.

    Grace, Jeremiah, and I worked on our shower shed. We are building it on skids, starting with plans from Construct 101. I modified the plans using SketchUp, which made the building process very straight forward. I measured and cut the lumber while Jeremiah did the construction. Grace went back and forth between helping both of us. We got the beams leveled, the floor built, a wall done — and the wood cut for the side and interior walls.

    It was very encouraging to make so much progress in one afternoon. Today we plan to finish trimming the hearth and — hopefully — finish the shower shed!

  • Weekly Update: 2.18.23

    Weekly Update: 2.18.23

    It was a very uneventful week. Due to the sub-freezing temps on the days we were scheduled to work, we only made it out to the land one afternoon. We had planned to finish the woodstove installation, but we opened up our boxes of tile only to find much of it broken. We did get our corrugated metal mostly installed, so that was something.

    We returned the broken tile and purchased new. We plan to install it this morning. We also made a major shopping trip, purchasing all of our supplies for the shower shed build. Lord willing, we will start on it this morning as well!

  • Weekly Update: 2.11.23

    Weekly Update: 2.11.23

    We finished our tent wall this week — finally! It shouldn’t have been such a hard thing, but as with so many aspects of this project, we are relearning so many forgotten skills that sometimes we make more work for ourselves. But learn we did, and that’s always a victory.

    We built the wall laying down in the tent. Standing it up and into place was complicated, since we had to slide it past the place where our ridge pole is joined together with a bracket. We managed it with lots shoving and some hoisting of the ridge pole. I was so relieved to have the wall finally in position, I wanted to do a happy dance.

    We had attached the polycarbonate panels to the wall only along the top, as we knew there would be a lot of movement during the positioning process. After we got it up, we finished attaching panels to the frame.

    Next we put together our storm door and installed it. This was a long, tedious process when we were nearly out of time one afternoon. Because we were in a hurry, we didn’t take any pictures of the process. We did snap several pictures of the finished product, however.

    We zipped everything back up when we were done for the day. When we start camping, we will do a better job getting it tied back for good.

    While we had to fight some rain this week, we still had some beautiful work days. Being out in the fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul in ways that are difficult to put into words.

    This adventure isn’t easy. There are so many missteps and mishaps. It’s overwhelming and humbling. But I’m so thankful that I call this piece of earth my home.

  • Weekly Update: 2.4.23

    Weekly Update: 2.4.23

    It’s been another week of homesteading with a skeleton crew. Several family members are still sick. It’s a nasty cold that seems to last forever. I got sick two weeks ago, and I still don’t feel like myself.

    We did our best to make progress, despite the germ and polar vortex. We only made it out two days, but we got quite a bit done. Like many other canvas tent campers, we decided to build a simple wood and polycarbonate wall across the front of our tent. This will allow us to use a real door, which will make life much nicer with up to 11 people sleeping in the tent at times. We have the wall framed and started on the sheathing. Lord willing, we will finish the wall and build the hearth next week.

    We are tired of the cold outside, and we are tired of having a cold inside. It’s been exhausting and the lack of progress has been a bit discouraging. We have peace that we are working as hard as we can. Our discouragement is a reminder every day to trust God’s timing and let go of our own. He is good, all the time! And we are warm and cozy in town. Doubtless, being sick would be much more unpleasant roughing it in a tent. God has a plan. Our part is to wait faithfully as we watch it unfold.

  • Weekly Update: 1.28.23

    Weekly Update: 1.28.23

    The germ my dad brought home last week is still working its way through our family. It’s been a week of hot tea and rest, watching the snow fall in Springfield. Because of the sickness and snow, we didn’t get to make any progress on our projects this week. Dad and Grace did make a trip out to the land to knock the snow off of the tent.

    When I was sick, I tried to make the most of my time. I did a fair amount of reading about apple trees, so I will be educated when ours arrive this spring. I also worked on the floor plan for inside our tent, and I shopped for bunk beds online. The prices are so ridiculous for beds rated for adults that I decided I’d rather make my own with plans from Ana White. I used her plans years ago when building our farmhouse dining room table, and they were very easy to follow. We already have all the necessary tools, so its just a matter of getting wood. It’s a job us girls can tackle on days the menfolk are working.

    For now, we are hoping we will be able to start back in on our project this weekend. We are anxious to make progress, but we are trusting God’s timing.